Discovering The Heart Of A Champion

The Church I attend is called Everyday Champions Church, that was the Church I walked into on the 1st April 2012, just three days after finishing my last drink.   We have a motto as such which is “There Is More In You Than You Think”.

Over the last few weeks in our Connect Groups we have been discussing what it means to be an Everyday Champion, what it is that drives us on to be the best we can be.  A couple of weeks ago in our Group, my mind was drawn back to a comment I had heard, a quotation that a famous Karate Instructor had said and when I went away to find the actual quote, I came across a story I had heard before, but now found more relevant than ever.

Back in 1957, the Japan Karate Association organised the first All Japan Karate Championships, which was probably the first Nationally organised karate competition in the world.  One student, Kanazawa Sensei was training for this competition, until just four days before he broke his right hand training.  The J.K.A. withdrew him from the competition because of the injury.

His mother had travelled to Tokyo to watch her Son compete, when she arrived he told that he was unable to compete due to the injury to his hand, but she didn’t understand why he couldn’t.  He tried to explain that he wasn’t allowed, due to the injury and she questioned him further.  She asked if he only used his right hand, didn’t he have another hand and two leg also, couldn’t he use them?

She told him to go back to the J.K.A. and ask to be allowed to compete.  The J.K.A. eventually agreed, on the provision that he had a doctor with him that would take responsibility for the injury.  So he went along to compete, hoping to win just one fight for his on looking mother.

In the competition he used his left hand to block his opponents and counter with kicks, he won his first fight, then another and another, until he made the final.  In the final he once again used his legs to score the points that saw him crowned the first All Japan Karate Champion.

Years later he travel to England to teach, he was introduced as a Champion of all Japan and students would congratulate him on becoming champion, he would usually respond  with “Thank you but please remember that I was only a karate champion for that one day, what about all the other days of the year?” Then he would say. “Karate is not just about being a champion on one day of the whole year but karate is about how hard you train in order to perfect your karate and yourself all the time, for every day, not just one”.

The story of that first karate championships is a great example of how we think.  He only saw what he didn’t have, concentrating on what he had lost, his mother looked not to what was lost, but made him look to what he had, to use that and go out and win, she changed his thinking and his mentality.

We see a parallel here with many stories and heros of the Bible, the likes of Moses, when God instructed him to lead the Isralites out of Egypt, he saw his inability to speak as a reason he couldn’t do it, but God saw the heart inside and sent Moses anyway, sending Aaron to speak for him, God saw what Moses did have, rather than what he was lacking.

In Jeremiah 1, we see the same issue, God instructs Jeremiah to go out to be a Prophet among the Nations, but Jeremiah responds with what he does have as an excuse, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  God sent him out anyway, seeing what Jeremiah had rather than what he lacked.

Despite being a karate champion, Kanazawa Sensei saw that as only one act, just that day, he saw his training as his way to perfect his character each day, to be the best person he could be.  In karate we have what is called the Dojo Kun, five ideals we strive to be:

  • Seek perfection of character
  • Be Faithful
  • Endeavor
  • Respect others
  • Refrain from violent behaviour

Kanazawa strove to live out this code in his daily life, not just a champion for that one day, but to live as a champion everyday.

Unfortunately these days we see too many champions of sport, not just karate, who fail to live this way, though they train to win on that one day, the rest of the time they unfortunately fail as human beings, consumed by success and riches gained, rather than living the real life of a champion.

We see in David, a champion on the battle field who strove to live the life of a champion everyday.  We see when he accepted the challenge of Goliath, it was those around him that saw only what he didn’t have, they saw him as young and small, inexperience and not a warrior, they didn’t see what David had.  Even Saul didn’t see what David had, otherwise he would have taken the challenge himself.  We don’t see Saul get down on his knees and pray to God, he was the King of the Israel, yet he never saw what he had on his side, only what he didn’t.

David on the other hand knew he had God with him, he answered Saul’s doubt with “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” He knew he had God with him, he had all he needed and as we know he defeated Goliath.

We are all guilty of seeing what we lack, me included, I see everything I don’t have as a reason not to be the person God made me to be, I see all that is wrong with my life, forgetting about all that I have and what God has given me.

I may have overcome so much, but there is still much I am afraid to do, because I have fear in what I don’t have, rather than confidence in the God I have with me always, I just need to keep believing, like David, that the God that has delivered me from so much, will deliver me in all the battles I face.

What is it that you see as a reason not to face the challenges before you?

What is it that you don’t have that stops you from competing?

What is it that you believe you don’t have that stops you being a champion everyday?

For we all have God with us, in every battle, in every fight, so what is it that stops us living as a Champion?

WHOM SHALL I FEAR (GOD OF ANGEL ARMIES) by CHRIS TOMLIN
You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light

Whom shall I fear

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory

Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

1 thought on “Discovering The Heart Of A Champion

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